IUPUI to screen documentary of campus' SNAP hunger awareness campaign

Nov. 18, 2013


INDIANAPOLIS -- Living on what was formerly known as the food stamps program is indeed a challenge, said Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students who participated in the first IUPUI SNAP Challenge.

A 35-minute documentary of their experiences will premiere this week as part of the annual IUPUI observance of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Almost 90 IUPUI students took part in the weeklong SNAP Challenge, agreeing to live strictly on food purchased with the equivalent of the weekly 2012 allowance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $31.50, or about $1.50 per meal for one person.

"It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be," one student said. "I feel a little tired and cranky," another said in separate videos they took with their cell phones and laptops to chronicle their participation.

The documentary, "IUPUI Takes the SNAP Challenge," will premiere in the Lilly Auditorium, in the basement of University Library, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, and will be shown again at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.

The Office of Student Involvement and the Center for Service and Learning at IUPUI organized the SNAP Challenge, which took place the week of Oct. 20 as a prelude to IUPUI's annual observance of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Joseph Spaulding, the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week coordinator, was among those who lived with the self-imposed budget restrictions.

"It was a great learning experience that opened (our) eyes to something that can't always be seen: hunger," said Spaulding, a senior mechanical engineering major. "I thought I already had empathy for others who are struggling, but this put things into a new perspective.

"The challenge itself is somewhat unrealistic; it's hard to get a good idea of what life is like on a limited food budget for just one week. But after this small glimpse into the lives of millions of low-income Americans, I have much more respect for anyone who is struggling to make ends meet."

Other activities planned for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at IUPUI include Tuesday's "The Price of Progress," a program on homelessness in Indianapolis; Wednesday's screening of "Dark Days," a documentary about homelessness; and Thursday's Jam the Jaguars Pantry event, the annual IUPUI food drive benefiting area food pantries.